Elimination of Neutrophils by Apoptosis During the Resolution of Acute Pulmonary Inflammation in Rats
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We evaluated the apoptosis of neutrophils during the resolution of acute pulmonary inflammation induced by exposure to ozone. The inflammatory response was assessed in rat lungs 0, 1, 3, and 7 days after 4-h exposure to air or 2 ppm ozone. Analysis of bronchoalveolar lavage fluid demonstrated significant increases in albumin concentrations on days 0 and 1 and in the number of lavageable neutrophils on days 0, 1, and 3, indicating the presence of acute pulmonary inflammation. These parameters returned to control values on day 7, which suggests that the acute pulmonary inflammation induced by ozone was reversible. On days 1 and 3, but not on day 0, the neutrophils showed morphologic evidence of apoptosis. Based on morphologic analysis, the proportion of apoptotic neutrophils was 23.3 ± 2.2% on day 1 and 55.7 ± 3.2% on day 3. Terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP end labeling (TUNEL), in contrast, revealed that the proportion of apoptotic cells was 59.7 ± 9.1% on day 1 and 68.0 ± 4.3% on day 3. On day 3, light microscopy and electron microscopy demonstrated engulfment of the neutrophils by macrophages. These findings indicate that the apoptosis of neutrophils followed by their engulfment by macrophages contributes to the clearance of neutrophils from the sites of inflammation. Moreover, TUNEL detected apoptotic neutrophils with greater sensitivity compared with morphologic assessment.
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